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The importance of switching off

The importance of switching off

In the digital age we live in, it’s never been harder to disconnect from our work lives.

The days of the 40-hour, nine to five, Monday to Friday work week are well and truly over. Work now follows us out of the office onto our commutes and into our homes 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Texts, WhatsApp messages, LinkedIn updates and dreaded emails – they don’t stop when we sign off for the day. Instead, we’re expected to deal with these no matter the day or the hour.

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If you’re feeling exhausted by the constant stream of communication, there’s only one solution: switching off.

Speaking personally, I’ve just started a new job that requires me to stay in touch with a heap of different channels. Emails, Slack, Workplace chat and Messenger have consumed my working life to the point that even when I sign off for the day and try to chill out at home, I’m constantly tempted to check in on all of them.

The silly part is that it’s mostly my own doing. I’m allowed to disconnect but I’ve slipped into a habit of constantly keeping myself in the loop even on days off.

This hasn’t done wonders for my mental health. I wake up thinking of what I may have missed from work and it’s entirely pointless.

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When I’m not rostered on, I’m entitled to step back from work to relax and recharge.

To fight the urge to constantly stay in the loop even when I’m not working, I’ve set myself a challenge.

On days when I’m not working, or over a free weekend, I’m not to look at any of my work channels for any reason.

If there are any problems I need to know about, I can deal with them on my next shift. I don’t need to spend my free time worrying about things I can’t control.

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If worrying about work during your free time is a hard to shake, try going cold turkey by turning off notifications or better yet, switching off your phone altogether outside work time.

In 2017, the French government introduced a law giving workers the ‘right to disconnect’. Firms now have a duty to regulate their email requirements so employees can get a break from the office.

While it’s tempting to want the same kind of rules in Australia, they would be completely unnecessary if companies were more sensible about their expectations of employees.

We don’t need a complete overhaul of employment laws, just some common sense.

Employees of all levels are entitled to personal time without distraction from the office. It’s about time we all felt comfortable to make that happen.

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